Bowmaking and Rehairing

A selection of fine quality handmade violin / viola bows are usually available to play at the workshop. Typical specifications - Octagonal pernambuco, silver mounted ebony frog & ivory or silver head facing. Weights: 56 – 61g. 



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Frogs on top quality bows are made in the workshop, using finest Ebony or black horn, mountings handmade from sterling silver sheet & inlayed with black, white or coloured pearl / abalone.

Every frog & button set is unique to it's bow.


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Bows are name-stamped & catalogued for weight, balance, spring & comparitive tension, etc. 



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    Rehaired Bows; Advice note.


Your bow has been rehaired with best Sowden's 'Blue String' hair. Here are some tips to maximise the life of the hair & minimise wear on the bow. 


You should use only your preferred brand of rosin on a new rehair.

I usually dress the hair with customer's rosin when they collect, however; if your freshly rehaired bow has not been prepared with rosin at the workshop, follow this procedure before first use; 

Put a piece of clean paper on work top. Take your rosin & with a sharp penknife, (or sharp kitchen veg. knife will do) shave a small pile of dust onto the paper. If the rosin breaks into small grains, rather than dust, grind into the paper with a fingertip.

Tighten the hair to playing tension & gently work the dust into the hair with the thumb & finger.

Take care to get rosin the entire length & through the ribbon of hair. Tap off surplus & repeat if necessary.

Wash hands!!! using hot water & detergent. Dress ribbon with rosin block as you do normally.

The bow should now play well.



Wipe rosin off bow stick & frog after each playing session, as you do with violin (??).                      Use a dry yellow duster only; do not use 'cleaners' or solvents of any kind.

Release tension from the hair (unscrew) after each playing session. Leave just enough tension to take up slack; When adjusting the tension screw, up or down, hold the bow by pinching the frog onto the stick with the thumb & forefinger. This lessens the wear & strain on the entire slide & screw adjusting mechanism.

Do not pull off broken hairs !!!  You may pull it out of the tied - off end in the frog or head. Only 2 or 3 hairs lost out of the bunch can cause the knot to fail. This is a common cause of sudden loss of tension & can only be remedied with a rehair. Any hairs that break in service should be cut off as close as possible to the head & frog ferrule with small scissors. Some wise players carry nail clippers in the violin case; I am told that they can also be used to trim fingernails.

If you are breaking hairs at a faster rate than normal, suspect dust mites. They can set up home in the velour lining of your case. Usually a problem when the instrument has not been played for a while; rarely troubles players who practise regularly, as the little critters don't like being rattled by vibrating strings, so bale-out during playing. Remove everything from the case & vacuum well. Don't use mothballs or naptha type insecticides as it may react with violin varnish.

Always save any loose or detached parts & get advice soon - usually refitting original parts is not expensive; fabricating replacement lost parts IS. My advice is free & early intervention will save you money.

Take particular care with the fragile tip (pointy-end). Bows cannot be rehaired with split or lost tips.

Get your rehair done in good time, before a performance / exam / audition, to get settled. All elements of a bow are subject to the vagaries & plain ‘cussedness’ of natural materials; working on bows is as much an art as a science  - It is rare, but if failures occur after rehairs, they usually show up within a week – usually at a recital!      Carry a spare bow. 

REMEMBER - If you are unsure about anything, or if something unusual happens following a rehair / repair (e.g., sudden loss of hair tension), always contact me first. I will always investigate a problem.






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There is a limited selection of restored bows, rehaired, lapped & resprung where appropriate. Reasonably priced, especially for students at middle grades, where a big investment may not yet be the best option.

 Choice of bow is always very subjective, so trial periods can be arranged. 



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Rehairing, using finest Sowdens unbleached white hair is undertaken. Selected mixed hair with a coarser texture available, if required.

Violin - £50 - 55, Viola - £55- 60, 

'Cello - £65,   Bass - P.O.A

Always arrange to visit workshop for assessing work, as total price will depend on a close inspection of the bow to assess any other problems. Please note that bows cannot be haired with damaged tips - see in left column a copy of my advice note that I give to students. 

 Other services;

Lappings in Leather, silver wire & Hill - style 'whalebone'. Repairs to tips & pearl.

(Note: Ivory / leather, timber; All materials are derived from responsible & legal sources)